Gaelic is part of Scotland's heritage

I'M sorry for the family who are desperate for their son to go to Glasgow Gaelic School but have been turned down for a place.

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Of course, it was a placing request, they live outwith the city limits and there are no guarantees but I sympathise. It's obviously important for them to preserve a part of their heritage.

What's even more disappointing though, is that cases such as this, highlighted in Tuesday's Evening Times, invariably become less about the family's plight and more a tirade on the relevance of Gaelic in today's society.

I have to declare a personal interest now. I'm a Gaelic speaker (well, tha beagan Gaelic agam) it was my grandparents first language, passed on to my mother. I am by no means fluent but it's important to me. It makes me who I am, it makes me different. That is something to be celebrated.

It's hard for me not to wade in when I read comments online that question the relevance of Gaelic to Scotland's history.

Until around the 12th century Gaelic was the majority language in Scotland. For a variety of reasons, it was pushed into the fringes of the highlands and islands, where it was the dominant language until the start of the 20th century. Just take a look at place names around the country for proof.

I UNDERSTAND that many people, particularly in lowland areas feel it has nothing to do with their own heritage but facts are facts.

If you don't want to learn Gaelic that's fine, that's your right. I won't question your right to learn another language that has little or no relevance to your own heritage but let's be a bit more generous with those who would like to.

The school exists in Glasgow because of the demand for Gaelic medium education. It has an excellent reputation, the children learn other languages too, and all studies point towards the benefits of children learning another language.

This would never happen in Wales which is currently screening a "quality" drama with English subtitles (Hinterland) that is attracting scores of viewers who don't speak a word of Welsh.

When I travel elsewhere in Europe, Spain particularly, they are always positive about Gaelic, never questioning its relevance.

The language is currently enjoying a surge in popularity thanks to US author Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series of books, which are being transformed into a big budget TV series, parts of which were filmed in Glasgow.

While I'm not so sure about the fan websites encouraging people to learn "Outlander" it's marvellous to read a book with Gaelic phrases incorporated, words that are simply too beautiful to be translated into English.

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